Feds earmark $1.5 million for marijuana research

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The government wants to know how other components apart from THC affect pain

$1.5 million in grants is up for grabs from the U.S. federal government this year in order to study marijuana. Instead of concentrating on the two most common compounds of the plant – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the government wants researchers to explore lesser compounds of the plant to determine who they could be beneficial in relieving pain.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) announced the grants last Thursday, stating that it will accept applications from researchers who will study “minor cannabinoids and terpenes.” The goal of the studies is to determine how the components work, both independently and combined.

The agency stated, “Early clinical data suggest that cannabis may enhance the potency of opioids in relieving pain; and the synergy from using these products together may result in more effective pain relief with lower doses of opioids. Yet, it is unclear which components of cannabis may have these properties. In particular, few studies have examined whether and which cannabinoids and/or terpenes interact with the opioid pain pathways.”

The NCCIH, which first stated that it was interested in the studies last November, is specifically interested in CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), myrcene, cannabinol (CBD), limonene, linalool and other terpenes. The agency further states, A growing body of literature suggests that the cannabis plant may have analgesic properties; however, research into cannabis’s potential analgesic properties has been slow. One key mechanism to investigate is whether potential analgesic properties of cannabis can be separated from its psychoactive properties. To address this question, more research is needed into the basic biological activity of the plant’s diverse phytochemicals, specifically minor cannabinoids and terpenes.”